Thumbs up for Out by Natsuo Kirino. Suspense.
An unforgettable work of crime fiction with excellent characters – especially the dark but powerful sort-of-heroine Masako, a worker on the night shift at a boxed-lunch factory – and many twisted scenes. I went through cycles of “this is so good, why do I have to put it down to go to work?” and “this is going to no happy ending, I’m realizing I’ve lost my taste for this sort of thing.” The first sense prevailed, however, and what I’m left with is the memory of an excellent book I can recommend to few people.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Silence by Shusaku Endo. Literature.
An engrossing story taking place during the state-supported massacres of the sizable minority of Japanese Catholics in the 1600’s. To simplify greatly, it deals in a well-rounded, satisfying way with the issue of staying true to one’s religion when to do so may not be the moral thing to do; and the effect of that dilemma on the faith of one man, Father Rodrigues, a young missionary.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for 100 Poems From The Japanese translated by Kenneth Rexroth. Poetry.
Haunting and utterly beautiful.
“I have always knownThat at last I wouldTake this road, but yesterdayI did not know that it would be today.”–Narihira
… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima. Literature.
I couldn’t decide whether to read slowly in order to savor Mishima’s exquisite prose, or gulp it in sheer ecstasy. This book did once more raise the question: Why do so many of the greatest writers in the world – of which I will unhesitatingly say Mishima is one – chose to write books of which we know what the finale will be from the first pages?… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Ranma 1/2, Volume 1 and Ranma 1/2, Volume 2 by Rumiko Takahashi. Manga.
My current project of reading Japanese literature would not be complete without some manga. My options were limited to what we had in the bookstore where I work: in other words, it was this or nothing. I did check reviews on Amazon first to make sure I was reading something decent, and was astonished to find that the first and second volumes had five stars each – with scads of reviews.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. Young adult.
A sweet, though ultimately rather puzzling little book about loss and living in spite of it. Not truly my thing, but I can see why it’s on the local high school reading lists.
“However! I couldn’t exist like that. Reality is wonderful.”
… >> Read more
Thumbs down for Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara. Literature.
This book’s main endearing quality is that it’s short. Also that it makes no emotional impact, which is a good thing, because some unpleasant things happen in it (murder, tongue piercings, explicit BDSM). It was not actually so bad that I wanted to put it down, but other than the faint interest of the fact that things do not go as they would in a “Western” novel, it’s completely forgettable in every way.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey. Travel.
I want to visit Japan, but that is not in the cards, so I am traveling vicariously instead. This is a small, charming little book about the author’s trip to Japan with his son, as they search to understand even of a fragment of the Japanese spirit that they think they discern in manga and anime.… >> Read more